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Post A Language Teacher's Dream (or Nightmare?)
Created by John Eipper on 01/13/20 3:27 AM

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A Language Teacher's Dream (or Nightmare?) (Enrique Torner, USA, 01/13/20 3:27 am)

I had a dream. I had to teach the languages of Spain, and, instead of the usual four, I had to remember 18: Manchego (from Castilla la Mancha), Leonese (from Castilla y León), "madrileño" (the language of the autonomic region of Madrid), Catalan, Valencian, Murcian, Mallorquin, Menorquin, "Ibicenco," Galician, Navarrese (from Navarra), Andalucian, "Extremeño," Aragonese, Asturian, Cantabrian, Basque, Canarian, Corsican, and the languages of Ceuta and Melilla. Then, a student raised her hand and asked: so what languages do they speak in Spanish America? I started sweating. Another hand was raised, and this student asked: if this is really the case, don't we speak Minnesotan, the people of Iowa speak Iowan, and so on? Where does this end? Another student raised his hand and asked: and what happened to Spanish? Does it still exist? And Castilian?

My sweating and shivering kept increasing. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't even remember the names of all the countries in South and Central America, let alone their languages. Then, another student raised his hand and said: so what's the big deal? I speak Ukrainian, Czech, and Slovakian because my Czech father married a woman from Slovakia, and, afterwards, they decided to move to Ukraine. But I don't know if I will have to learn Russian next!

Then, all of a sudden, the shadow of José Ignacio Soler appeared from the side of the classroom door. Then, he walked in and smiled. Then I woke up. I breathed a sigh of relief, but then I wondered if what I dreamt was a sign of what was to come in the not too far away.

Ok, José Ignacio: do you know that my second last name is Soler? We could even be related, and here you are causing me nightmares! And, to top it all, our dear editor now tells me that I come from the Land of hyraxes, and not from Rabbitland, as I have been teaching my students for decades. I have never even heard, let alone seen, any hyraxes, here, in Spain, or anywhere else. I have read tons of Spanish textbooks, and hyraxes never showed up anywhere! And they are supposed to be related to elephants? You've got to be kidding! Phoenicians must have had very bad eyesight to confuse rabbits with hyraxes!

JE comments:  I return to the classroom in a couple of hours, and this language teacher also had a nightmare.  First-day jitters.  My pedagogy-themed anxiety dreams usually involve forgetting to prepare or showing up in class, like Dagwood Bumstead, with no pants.

Fear not, language colleagues!  We are seasoned professionals.  And now we learn that Enrique Torner Soler and José Ignacio Soler might be cousins.  The WAIS Effect never rests.  Gary Moore (next) has a few thoughts on this uncanny phenomenon.

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  • Spanish Dialects...and a Word on the Solers (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 01/13/20 2:42 PM)
    I appreciated Enrique Torner's humorous dream about teaching the languages of Spain, but more than a dream I would say it would be a nightmare for him, particularly with my smiling presence in it.

    Lying beneath the ironic and cartoonish sense of Enrique's tale is perhaps a profound truth, the cultural multiplicity of Spain and South America. However, calling all the variants or dialects, if you will, of Spanish, Catalan, etc., "languages" is certainly a hyperbole.

    I would be much honored to be your relative, Enrique. I don't have a clear family tree picture, but who knows?

    JE comments: Enrique wrote to clarify: his father's maternal surname is Soler, meaning it is the original surname of his paternal grandmother.  Enrique's maternal surname is Montoya.  A quick web search teaches us that Soler is a venerable name originally from Barcelona.

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